Water water, every-blinkin-where!

Honestly, you couldn't make it up!

We've got a lovely couple staying with us just now. They've got to be, really, as he is an Old Jarrovian, i.e. an ex pupil of Jarrow Grammar School, like me. But that doesn't exempt him from the trials and tribulations of life in Luxor, does it, Dear Reader?

Two days before these good folk landed, last week, we started having the odd power cut, again! We haven't had any since we returned after our Christmas break, and had been lulled into a false sense of well-being and comfort. Then, BANG; no electricity for an hour! It's happened most evenings since. Of course it had to be when we have our first guests for eight months, didn't it?

We've had a bit of trouble with our water system recently, as well. But I thought that it was cured before our guests arrived, how wrong I was. I realised, the other day, that the water pump was switching on and off without us using any taps or anything. Eventually, I realised that the small non-return valve on the feed into the hot water tank must be allowing the hot water to drop back into the pipework, and that that was what had been causing the noise in the pipes after a tap (or whatever) had been used. So, to kill two birds with one stone, I replaced the valve. the new one being purchased from Mr Showky, for the princely sum of 15le. Very good, Mr Adward!

You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the pump was still acting itself! I checked the same valve downstairs, and yes, it too was malfunctioning. "Mafiche mushkellar! (No problem!) I can fix that." I thought to myself. So, this morning, as we were cleaning the guest apartment (while our guests were clambering about the temples etc on the Side of the Dead) all I needed to do was to nip down to Mr Showky's and get a new valve and replace it. Hahaha! (A spot of manic laughter there, just to prepare you for what is to follow!)

I was careful to stipulate the Italian manufactured valve, as opposed to the Chinese one, as Showky has always assured me that Italian plumbing requisites are so much superior in their quality. I closed the cold tap which feeds the tank, and then opened a hot tap to release any pressure in the tank before I started to undo any of the couplings. Clever lad! When I've done this before, like just the other day, there has only been a very small amount of water which has leaked out of the open pipe. Not this time, though! I had to empty the whole bloomin' tank, it glugged and spurted all over. Never mind, the bathroom is fully tiled, so it would clean up easily. In the event, the pipe nuts were a bit awkward to loosen, as they kept turning the stainless braided pipe as well, and I had to keep wangling the pipe to continue.

It came as a pleasant break to stroll down onto Sharia Yousef Hassan, to Showky's shop and get the new valve, another 15 Egyptian quid. Full of the joys of spring, I had the lot back together again in no time, and was then able to get back to vacuuming and mopping the floors.

It wasn't until I had finished, and thought that I'd just check the bathroom before leaving the flat, that I noticed a drip on the lowest part of the pipe. I felt it..........and the whole of the stainless steel braiding was wet! I must have damaged the interior of the pipe while I was undoing it. Well, it must have been 7 or 8 years old, and the inside could have been hard or a bit perished. Never mind! A new pipe wouldn't break the bank, and all I needed to do was to shut off the cold feed and nip again to Showky's. Again; mafiche mushkellar!

And so it went, a nice new pipe, with nice new, soft, seals which didn't need overtightening.

This is still the old pipe, but you get the idea, don't you, Dear Reader? Champion! On with the cold feed tap. A drip! This time from the point on the handle of the tap. Now, I'm not a difficult man, nor a violent man; but I was getting to be a teensie bit peeved!!! I unscrewed the tap from the iron pipe in the wall, and found that it had an extension on the back. Again I strolled down to see Showky. It was a Chinese tap, as you might have already guessed, and it was also 7 or 8 years old. An Italian replacement was purchased, and Showky even swapped over the extension for me, thread tape and everything!

I was getting sick and tired of climbing our stairs by now, a little slower every trip. When I offered up the tap and extension to the iron pipe which sat about an inch or so below the surface of the tiles, I found (to my very obvious delight!!!) that it DIDN'T REACH! This was getting beyond being even the slightest bit funny (so don't you dare laugh, Dear Reader, don't think that I can't see you through this "telly screen"!). Showky took pity on me and gave me an extra extension free of charge!

After p-l-o-d-d-i-n-g back up the street and painfully mounting the stairs, I wound about twelve layers of put-phut tape (P.T.F.E. Thread Tape) onto the threads of the new extension and screwed it into the open iron pipe set back into the wall. I had to tighten it a bit more than I would have liked, to get the other pipe connection into the correct position, but it seemed to be OK. On with the tap again! As the tears trickled down my cheeks, so did the water trickle down the white tiles!

Frustration was now taking hold! Freda, who could sense that I was about to explode (or perhaps implode?) even suggested that I stop and have a cup of tea. But the guests might be back at any minute, and they'll be wanting a shower!

Grudgingly, I took the tap off again, rewound it with put-phut, about 16 layers this time, and screwed it back into pace. HALLELUJAH!!!! It was OK, and the guests arrived back from their adventure just as I was cleaning up. Perfect!

The afternoon was taken up by showering, lunching and sleeping. With a visit to the Etap for tea and free cake come five o'clock time.

As we left the house, I noticed the water pump click on and off as we came down the stairs, and my heart sank! But not as far as it did when we walked out the street door and came across this:

Yes Playmates, our little alley was flooded, as was the main street:

The water main had burst just above where it came out of the ground! Adam had already reported it to Dr Ashraf the dentist, who had reported it to the water company, and they would come and repair it ASAP. (As soon as possible.)

The cake at the Etap was as soft as a baby's bum and a lot better tasting. After thoroughly enjoying our rest and watching the world go by, we took the 'bus and did a little shopping before returning home. Can you guess what happened next? That's right, just as we got off the 'bus, the lights went out, another b****y power cut! Water spurting all over the street and no lights to see by, that was all we needed! Why are we here? What is it that compels us to stay? Are we just mad? (Remember that last question, just for a minute or so.)

Adam chased me out of the way, up the stairs; suggesting that if the water company men saw my white face when they arrived, the cost of the repair would probably double! I spied on them with my 'long lens', from my "Eagle's Nest" up on the fourth floor.

That's right, three of them; two to watch and one to work, just like back home in England!

Sorry, that should have read; two to drink tea and smoke cigarettes and watch, and one to work! You can plainly see the two tea trays and they'd only been there for about ten minutes!

At first, when I saw this scene, I couldn't believe the evidence of my own eyes. Surely they weren't going to try and repair a water main with a bicycle inner-tube? (That is definitely what they are holding, believe you me!) But they did, and I thought that we might be going mad? The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, eh?

I'm now frightened to venture downstairs, in case their temporary repair has failed due to the increase in water pressure that the evening will surely have brought. I'll let you know what the morrow brings, when they are due to make a permanent repair. (Probably another large bill for your's truly!!!) Yes, I think we must be going mad after all.


  1. I started reading this with interest, wondering how you were going to cope with this minor problem, knowing the mixture of pipe and fittings you have out there and probably the limited tools availible
    After reading about the third trip to the 'merchants' I really started to feel for you, I had been inyour position more than once, a tiny leak that wont just go away and as one thing after another fails and the PTFE tape supply is getting smaller, but Freda was right, there does come a time when its a good thing to take a step back, have a cuppa and then get back into the fray (the old adage, tea makes everything better still holds up)
    I now make sure I have at least 3 rolls of PTFE in my tool box, the thick gas tape, not the film you get from Wickes, I have plenty of fitting and I pick up these flexi fittings at car boot sales (I am not a fan of these I am afraid, but there are some cases where you have to use them, my 'bits' box has been a real god send on jobs, but it weighs a ton

    I then started reading about the flood you had in the alley way, I envisized a 6 inch pipe pumping out gallons and the alley awash, but then I saw the picture, ah a simple one inch pipe, I thought they would be shutting the water down and replace the pipe, then I read they turned up with a bycycle inner tube, I knew exactly where this was going to lead, a peice of rubber and a jubilee clip (I had done this several times myself, when a chippie had driven a nail into pipework)
    Then I saw the photo you had posted, I think they have just used tape to hold this leak back, I hate to bring you bad news, but this wont last very long (I am assuming this is just a temporary job, before they change the pipe
    If not you could be the hero here, if you can get an idea of the size of the hole, get a suitable jubilee clip and a thicker peice of rubber,
    When this repair does fail, (as it will) peel off the tape, postion the peice of rubber over the hole, then fit the jubilee clip and tighten it up (using a flat bladed scrrew driver or if availible and socket set (If you can turn off the water, all the better, if not work on the opposte side of the hole or a change of clothes will be needed)
    This may seem a 'botch' job, but it is just the cheap way of repairing a leak the way the water boards do, they just use a larger clamp (assuming the pipe hasnt actually split)
    A hole in a pipe below ground is usually caused by a pebble or stone wearing away the pipe, due to earth movement (a good idea to pack soft sand around iron pipe to stop this happening)
    A repair with a bit of rubber and jubilee clip will last many years, when that does fail, it will be time to replace the pipe
    I'd be interested to hear how their repair has held up
    I feel sure your guests would have had a lot of sympathy for you, those stairs do increase in length each time you use them (magic steps)
    I did really have a lot of sympathy for you the further I read, hopefully it has all been cured now, I wish I could have been with you with my box of 'bits' it might have saved a lot of legwork

  2. Wow, Derrick, I've seen you put shorter postings on your travel blog!!!
    Thanks for the concern though, a bit of sympathetic 'fellow feeling' can go a long way when you're up against it.
    The burst pipe is actually about 3 inches in diameter and was spraying water all over the place. I've been down this morning to see if it held up overnight, and it's doing quite well, all things considering.
    The workmen are supposedly coming back today to make a permanent repair, and whereas in England the pipe would be their responsibility, it seems that in Egypt that their responsibility ends at the 'big' main. Bugger!

  3. Ah, the reason this was longer, I was hoping to keep you out of the way, but the jubilee clip trick does work, it really just depends on the size of the hole, a wider clip does work, but sometimes you really need the clamp
    I have been in that position in a bathroom when whatever you do, nothing goes right and all you want to do is get it fixed before anyone gets back, then give the impression it was just something minor, rather than a real pain in the bum
    Not much different from the UK, if its a big pipe, we dont do that

    You really did have my full sympathy and I felt your frustration

  4. In the truck repair business, we used to have a clever little temporary repair thing for the high pressure injector pipes on diesel engines. I never saw them for sale anywhere, but my dad had always had a couple in his 'breakdown' box, and they passed on to me after his death.
    They consisted of a reinforced rubber tube, about 3 or 4 inches long, with an inside diameter the same as the outside diameter of the failed pipe, with walls about 3/8 of an inch thick. Then there were two large brass nuts, with a tapered inside, which screwed onto either end of the rubber pipe. The nuts compressed the pipe enough to seal it, even accounting for the high pressure of the diesel being injected through.
    They were called "Seagreens", which was a trade name. Anyone else come across them?

  5. Well uk had a lot of water why not you in luxor lol